McClaughry: Swiss vote ‘no carbon tax’ in national referendum

Wikimedia Commons/Wladyslaw

The “No to CO2 law” campaign also argued that Switzerland was responsible for just 0.1% of global emissions and the policy would have negligible impact on global emissions.

By John McClaughry

Switzerland is famous for its national referenda, whereby current issues adopted by the legislature are put out for voter approval.

Last week the Swiss voted on a proposed law that would have hiked taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and natural gas, and used the funds to reduce public health insurance premiums and fund green technologies and building efficiency improvements. This is essentially the current Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act strategy, with some health insurance subsidies added in to broaden its support.

In what is believed to be the first time a carbon tax has been put to a national vote, upscale urban regions including Geneva, Basel and Zurich voted in favor of the CO2 law, but 51.6 percent of voters, and 21 of the country’s 26 cantons, said “get out of here with your carbon tax.”

The disappointed environment minister said the defeat of the law would make it “very difficult” to achieve the country’s goal of slashing its greenhouse gases to half their 1990 levels by 2030.

Opponents to the law had argued the policy would hurt the economy and disproportionately impact lower income households already battling to recover from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.

The “No to CO2 law” campaign also argued that Switzerland was responsible for just 0.1 percent of global emissions and the policy would have negligible impact on global emissions.

Maybe an advisory referendum on a Vermont carbon tax would save the Vermont Climate Council a lot of effort.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Wladyslaw
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4 thoughts on “McClaughry: Swiss vote ‘no carbon tax’ in national referendum

  1. 171 Scientists: CO2 Budget Of Electric Mobility “Twice As Big As Assumed” By European Leaders
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/06/30/171-scientists-co2-budget-of-electric-mobility-twice-as-big-as-assumed-by-european-leaders/

    I am surprised, it took these “171 scientists” so long to come up with their letter to the EU folks in Brussels.
    The Brussel folks seem to be in their own alternate universe of reality, full of biased assumptions.
    They are hoping scare-mongered, non-technical folks will be sufficiently brain-washed to go along with their pronouncements for the future Nirvana.

    The below article describes, in detail, EVs will reduce CO2 by about 50% of what Brussels EV proponents have been claiming. Their simplistic analyses are full of errors and omissions.

    Any economic and CO2 analyses must be on a lifetime, A to Z basis, including the CO2 emitted by restructuring entire ECONOMIES for EVs, heat pumps, batteries, etc.

    POOR ECONOMICS AND MINIMAL CO2 REDUCTION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN NEW ENGLAND
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/poor-economics-of-elec

    This article describes the efficiency of electric vehicles, EVs, and their charging loss, when charging at home and on-the-road, and the economics, when compared with efficient gasoline vehicles.

    EVs are designed to be aero-dynamic, and to have low rolling resistance, efficient drive trains, and efficient batteries. This will minimize vehicle weight and maximize range. Tesla is the industry leader regarding efficient EVs.

    In this article,

    Total cost of an EV, c/mile = Operating cost, c/mile + Owning cost, c/mile, i.e., amortizing the difference of the MSRPs of an EV versus an equivalent, efficient gasoline vehicle; no options, no destination charge, no sales tax, no subsidies.

    CO2 reduction of equivalent vehicles, on a lifetime, A-to-Z basis = CO2 emissions of an efficient gasoline vehicle, say 30 to 40 mpg – CO2 emissions of an EV

    It is important to assess the cost and operating impacts of large-scale use of EVs on electricity generation, grid capacity and grid-scale energy storage capacity, on an A-to Z basis.

    This article has six parts and an Appendix.

    SUMMARY

    Real-World Concerns About the Economics of EVs

    It may not be such a good idea to have a proliferation of EVs, because of:

    1) Their high initial capital costs; about 50% greater than equivalent gasoline vehicles.
    2) The widespread high-speed charging facilities required for charging “on the road”.
    3) The loss of valuable time when charging “on the road”.
    4) The high cost of charging/kWh, plus exorbitant penalties, when charging “on-the-road”.

    High-Mileage Hybrids a Much Better Alternative Than EVs

    The Toyota Prius, and Toyota Prius plug-in, which get up to 54 mpg, EPA combined, would:

    1) Have much less annual owning and operating costs than any EV, for at least the next ten years.
    2) Have minimal wait-times, as almost all such plug-ins would be charging at home
    3) Be less damaging to the environment, because their batteries would have very low capacity, kWh
    4) Impose much less of an additional burden on the electric grids.

    Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, save about the same amount of CO₂ as electric cars over their lifetime, plus:

    1) They are cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles, even without subsidies.
    2) They do not require EV chargers, do not induce range anxiety, can be refilled in minutes, instead of hours.
    3) Climate change does not care about where CO₂ comes from. Gasoline cars are only about 7% of global CO2 emissions. Replacing them with electric cars would only help just a little, on an A to Z, lifetime basis.

    “Electrify Everything”, an easily uttered slogan that would costs $billions in Vermont

    It would require:

    – Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro
    – Additional grid augmentation/expansion to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
    – Additional battery systems to store the midday solar electricity surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
    – Major command/control-orchestrating to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:

    1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
    2) Operating times of major appliances
    3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

  2. Vermont legislators and RE folks advocate to electrify heating of your house with heat pumps.

    However, it would impoverish almost all Vermonters, because they live in housing that is totally unsuitable for heat pumps.

    Here are some numbers from my own heat pumps.

    Heat Pumps are Money Losers in my Vermont House (as they are in almost all people’s houses)

    My annual electricity consumption increased about 50% (the various taxes, fees, and surcharges also increased), after I installed three Mitsubishi, 24,000 Btu/h heat pumps, each with 2 heads; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.
    The heat pumps last about 15 years.
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-co2-reduction-of-ashps-is-based-on-misrepresentations

    They are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, well-sealed/well-insulated house. It has 2” of blueboard (R-10 vs R-0.67 for 8” concrete) on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab which has saved me many thousands of heating dollars over the 35 years.

    Before heat pumps, my space heating propane was 1000 gal/y, after heat pumps, it was 830 gal/y, a reduction of 170 gal/y, or $310/y, at $2.399/gal. Additional electricity costs were $609/y. I am losing money
    Domestic hot water, DHW, heating, requires about 200 gallon/y

    My existing Viessmann propane system, 95%-efficient in condensing mode, is used on cold days, 15F or less, because heat pumps have low efficiencies, i.e., low Btu/kWh, at exactly the same time my house would need the most heat; a perverse situation, due to the laws of Physics 101!!

    The heat pumps would be slightly more efficient than electric resistance heaters at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature. It would be extremely irrational to operate air source heat pumps, at such temperatures.

    I have had no energy cost savings, because of high household electric rates, augmented with taxes, fees and surcharges. Vermont forcing, with subsidies, the addition of expensive RE electricity to the mix, would make matters worse!!

    Amortizing the $24,000 turnkey capital cost at 3.5%/y for 15 years costs about $2,059/y; I am losing money.

    There likely will be service calls and parts for the heat pumps, as the years go by, in addition to annual service calls and parts for the existing propane system; I am losing more money.
    https://www.myamortizationchart.com

    NOTE:
    If I had a highly sealed, highly insulated house, with the same efficient propane heating system, my house would use very little energy for heating.
    If I would install heat pumps* and would operate the propane system on only the coldest days, I likely would have energy cost savings.
    However, those annual energy cost savings would be overwhelmed by the annual amortizing cost, i.e., I would still be losing money, if amortizing were considered.

    * I likely would need 3 units at 18,000 Btu/h, at a lesser turnkey capital cost. Their output, very-inefficiently produced, would be about 27,000 Btu/h at -10F, the Vermont HVAC design temperature.

    NOTE: VT-Department of Public Service found, after a survey of 77 heat pumps installed in Vermont houses (turnkey cost for a one-head HP system is about $4,500), the annual energy cost savings were, on average, $200, but the annual amortizing costs turned that gain into a loss of $200, i.e., on average, these houses were unsuitable for heat pumps, and the owners were losing money.
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/cost-savings-of-air-source-heat-pumps-are-negative-in-vermont

  3. “Electrify Everything”, an easily uttered slogan by Vermont legislators, and pro-RE folks, but that would costs $billions in Vermont

    It would require:

    – Additional electricity generation plants, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro
    – Additional grid augmentation/expansion to carry increased loads for future EVs and heat pumps
    – Additional battery systems to store the midday solar electricity surges for later use, aka, DUCK-curve management.
    – Major command/control-orchestrating to avoid overloading distribution and high voltage electric grids regarding:

    1) Charging times and duration of EVs and heat pumps
    2) Operating times of major appliances
    3) Control of electricity demands of commercial/industrial businesses

    Real-World Concerns About the Economics of EVs

    It may not be such a good idea to have a proliferation of EVs, because of:

    1) Their high initial capital costs; about 50% greater than equivalent gasoline vehicles.
    2) The widespread high-speed charging facilities required for charging “on the road”.
    3) The loss of valuable time when charging “on the road”.
    4) The high cost of charging/kWh, plus exorbitant penalties, when charging “on-the-road”.

    High-Mileage Hybrids a Much Better Alternative Than EVs

    The Toyota Prius, and Toyota Prius plug-in, which get up to 54 mpg, EPA combined, would:

    1) Have much less annual owning and operating costs than any EV, for at least the next ten years.
    2) Have minimal wait-times, as almost all such plug-ins would be charging at home
    3) Be less damaging to the environment, because their batteries would have very low capacity, kWh
    4) Impose much less of an additional burden on the electric grids.

    Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, save about the same amount of CO₂ as electric cars over their lifetime, plus:

    1) They are cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles, even without subsidies.
    2) They do not require EV chargers, do not induce range anxiety, can be refilled in minutes, instead of hours.
    3) Climate change does not care about where CO₂ comes from. Gasoline cars are only about 7% of global CO2 emissions. Replacing them with electric cars would only help just a little.

    All is explained in this article

    POOR ECONOMICS AND MINIMAL CO2 REDUCTION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN NEW ENGLAND
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/poor-economics-of-electric-vehicles-in-new-england

  4. The Swiss are among the most educated, and least brain-washed people in Europe.
    They can smell RE money-hustling scams miles away.

    Here is an article showing the cost of “fighting climate change”

    Some Dem/Prog Vermont legislators, having a rare moment of sanity, even admitted, whatever Vermont does regarding “fighting the climate” has the effect of a fly on an elephant’s rump.

    WORLD AND US PRIMARY ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND CAPITAL COST
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/world-total-energy-consumption

    World energy consumption is projected to increase to 736 quads in 2040 from 575 quads in 2015, an increase of 28%, according to the US Energy Information Administration, EIA.
    See URL and click on PPT to access data, click on to page 4 of PowerPoint

    Most of this growth is expected to come from countries not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, and especially from countries where demand is driven by strong economic growth, particularly in Asia.

    Non-OECD Asia, which includes China and India, accounted for more than 60% of the world’s total increase in energy consumption from 2015 through 2040.

    PARIS AGREEMENTS

    China, India, and other developing Asian countries, and Africa, and Middle and South America, need to use low-cost energy, such as coal, to be competitive. They would not have signed up for “Paris”, if they had not been allowed to be more or less exempt from the Paris agreements

    Obama agreed to commit the US to the Paris agreements, i.e., be subject to its financial and other obligations for decades.
    However, he never submitted the commitment to the US Senate for ratification, as required by the US Constitution.
    Trump rescinded the commitment. It became effective 3 years later, one day after the US presidential elections on November 3, 2020.

    If the US had not left “Paris”, a UN Council likely would have determined a level of renewable energy, RE, spending, say $500 billion/y, for distributing to various poorer countries by UN bureaucrats.
    The Council would have assessed OECD members, likely in proportion to their GDPs.
    The US and Europe would have been assessed at 100 to 150 billion dollars/y each.
    The non-OECD countries likely would continue to be more or less exempt from paying for the Paris agreements.

    SUMMARY OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES FOR THE WORLD AND US

    The analysis includes two scenarios: 1) 50% RE by 2050, and 2) 100% RE by 2050.
    The CAPEX values exclude a great many items related to transforming the world economy to a low-carbon mode. See next section.

    50% RE by 2050

    World CAPEX for RE were $2,652.2 billion for 2010-2019, 10 years
    World CAPEX for RE were $282.2 billion in 2019.
    World CAPEX for RE would be $24,781 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 5.76%/y

    US CAPEX for RE were $494.5 billion for 2010 – 2019, 10 years.
    US CAPEX for RE were $59 billion in 2019.
    US CAPEX for RE would be $7,233 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 8.81%/y

    100% RE by 2050

    World CAPEX for RE were $2,652.2 billion for 2010-2019, 10 years
    World CAPEX for RE were $282.2 billion in 2019.
    World CAPEX for RE would be $60,987 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 10.08%/y

    US CAPEX for RE were $494.5 billion for 2010 – 2019, 10 years.
    US CAPEX for RE were $59 billion in 2019.
    US CAPEX for RE would be $16,988 billion for 2019 – 2050, 32 years; compound growth 13.42%/y

    SUMMARY OF “BIG-PICTURE” CAPEX FOR THE WORLD AND THE US

    World More-Inclusive CAPEX

    The above CAPEX numbers relate to having 50% RE, or 100% RE, in the primary energy mix by 2050, which represents a very narrow area of “fighting climate change”. See Appendix for definitions of source, primary and upstream energy.

    This report, prepared by two financial services organizations, estimates the world more-inclusive CAPEX at $100 trillion to $150 trillion, over the next 30 years, about $3 trillion to $5 trillion per year
    https://www.investmentexecutive.com/news/research-and-markets/funding-the-fight-against-global-warming/

    NOTE: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that an average of $3.5 trillion per year will be needed just in energy investments between 2016 and 2050 to achieve the 1.5-degree target.
    https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/us-must-halve-emissions-galvanize-global-climate-action-un-chief-2021-04-19/

    US More-Inclusive CAPEX

    The ratio of World CAPEX for RE / US CAPEX for RE = 16,988/60,987 = 0.279

    A more-inclusive US CAPEX could be $27.9 trillion to $41.8 trillion

    The US CAPEX could be less, because, at present, the world is adding a quad of RE at about $58.95 billion, compare to the US at about $102.78 billion.

    It is unclear what accounts for the large difference.
    Part of it may be due to differences of accounting methods among countries.

    NOTE: The CAPEX numbers exclude costs for replacements of shorter-life systems, such as EVs, heat-pumps, batteries, wind-turbines, etc., during these 30 years. For comparison:

    Hydro plants have long lives, about 100 years.
    Nuclear plants about 60 years
    Coal and gas-turbine plants about 40 years
    Wind turbine systems about 20 years
    Solar systems about 25 years
    Battery systems about 15 years

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